Today is World AIDS Day.
Do you remember where you were when you first heard the term AIDS? I remember just graduating from high school in 1982 and began hearing about AIDS on the news. At that time, it appeared to only affect white homosexuals, so I was far removed. It didn’t have anything to do with me. I didn’t know any white homosexuals. Then in the 90’s, it spread to affecting black homosexuals. I still felt far removed because I didn’t know any black homosexuals either. Or did I?
My friend’s hairdresser was a man. A very handsome man, and to my knowledge, he had girlfriends. Turns out he had boyfriends too. He developed AIDS and died. Same thing happened to a friend’s uncle, someone’s cousin, someone’s brother, my old next door neighbor…Now it was getting closer to home. I wasn’t aware that any of these men were bi-sexual. Then we learned that some of these men who led double lives; having sex with men and women, have now spread the disease to unsuspecting women. The most disturbing fact about this is that sometimes the man doesn’t get the disease himself, but just passes it on.
Enter the year 2000. By then AIDS we see fewer cases of full blown AIDS, but what is now called HIV, but was quickly on the rise. I mostly heard about it being an epidemic here in the US and in Africa. By now, it’s no longer a disease that just affects homosexuals, nor is it only transmitted by sexual encounters. We began to hear about people dying from blood transfusions, and a whole lot of transmission going on through the sharing of needles by intravenous drug users. So, now, it’s no longer “the gay disease”. Babies are dying from being infected by their mothers. People of all races are being affected and are dying. Today I read that China is expecting 48,000 new cases of HIV next year.
As the new millennium rolls along, there is still no cure, but we learn that knowing your status early and getting on medication can prolong your life. But still, many are dying from the disease because they’re not getting tested. This is very true in the African American and Latino communities. I am quite disturbed at the statistics on our youth and STD’s.
So, today, December 1, 2011 is WORLD AIDS DAY. Get tested. Take someone with you. Know your status. AND DON'T HAVE UNPROTECTED SEX. It could save lives.
Kendall Hayes is the founder of HER…Healed Empowered